Two more community sessions are left before applications for the next Minneapolis Park Board Superintendent close Friday.
The sessions are part of a push to hear from specific community members — including those of diverse ages and races — about who they want as the next leader of the city’s largest landowner. Everyone is welcome at the events.
On Thursday, the board will host an LGBTQ session at the Loring Community Arts Center and on Friday it will host an East African session at the Brian Coyle Community Center. Both are from 6 to 8 p.m.
The St. Louis Park-based search firm picked to lead the charge, kpCompanies, has been leading the conversations at the community listening sessions. Originally, its proposal included hosting three sessions. They have instead held well over a dozen throughout the summer.
Community involvement in the search has been amplified compared to previous searches. These citywide conversations were a reason the board selected kpCompanies.
At several meetings, a common theme has been hiring a local person of color or someone who has experience with working with people from different backgrounds. Park users have voiced concerns about equity and policing and the need for more senior and youth programming, and they urged the Park Board to hire a leader who will interact with all members of the public.
The search firm has said the information gathered at the listening sessions will be incorporated in the questions asked during candidate interviews.
The board plans to have a new executive selected by October, following Superintendent Jayne Miller’s resignation earlier this year. The board appointed former superintendent Mary Merrill as interim chief until October at a salary of $14,278 per month.
Following months of community meetings, the timeline speeds up: Once the first round of phone interviews takes place, the top candidates will be picked for more in-depth screening. In October, the top three candidates will be brought to Minneapolis for in-person interviews. The search firm and the board will host a public meet-and-greet with the candidates. The official start date for the new executive will be announced later.
After budgeting $80,000 to $100,000 to cover all costs for the search, including air travel for candidates and the community engagement sessions, the board received $50,000 from the Minneapolis Foundation. That could trim the board’s final cost to between $30,000 and $50,000.
The hiring of the new superintendent is the first major decision for a board made up mostly of newcomers — six of the nine commissioners were elected in November after a fierce election.
The board oversees a staff of more than 500 full-time employees and an annual budget of more than $110 million.